Oil-rich Kazakhstan top global target for retailers

April 18. Reuters. LONDON

By Brenda Goh

* Kazakh city Almaty lures 18 new entrants in 2011
* Attracted by rising middle class, better infrastructure

Oil-rich Kazakhstan top global target for retailersOil-rich Kazakhstan was the top target for international retailers looking to expand in 2011, as brands sought to take advantage of the central Asian state’s fast-growing middle class and improving infrastructure, research found.

A report by property consultancy CBRE Group said 18 global retailers entered Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, last year, the highest number among the 73 countries it surveyed.

“This was largely down to major infrastructure improvements, the delivery of new shopping centre space and the arrival in 2010 of Inditex Group,” the report said, adding that rising average income was also a factor.

Inditex brands include fashionwear chains Zara, Massimo Dutti and Bershka.

Moscow and the fellow eastern European cities of Kiev and Warsaw were retailers’ next most popular targets, attracting 26 entrants between them.

International retailers are targeting the rising wealth of populations in central and eastern Europe, as the countries emerge from recession and shrug off the debt woes that have plagued euro zone countries.

Kazakhstan, a mainly Muslim country of 16.7 million people, has a per-capita GDP on a par with Turkey or Mexico. The country’s economy grew by 7.5 percent last year.

The report, which surveyed 326 retailers, said London was the most international shopping city, with 55.5 percent of retailers having a presence in the UK capital, followed by the United Arab Emirates and the United States with 53.1 percent and 50.3 percent respectively.

China was the most active market for shopping centre development, with eight of the world’s top 10 cities by shopping centre floorspace under construction.